Thursday, April 14, 2005

Papua, Indonesia: Covert genocide of a Christian People

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005


By Elizabeth Kendal
World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC)
Special to ASSIST News Service

AUSTRALIA (ANS) -- Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Eastern Indonesia, is the western part of the island of New Guinea. The indigenous Papuans are Melanesians, and according to Operation World, more than 90% of them are officially reckoned as Christian, mostly Protestant. This is quite amazing, considering Papuans were animists and headhunters only 50 years ago. Many people worldwide have not even heard of Papua, or confuse it with the independent nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG), in the eastern part of New Guinea. Papua (as Irian Jaya) has been memorably highlighted in Don Richardson's well known missionary tales 'Peace Child' (also available as a film) and 'Lords of the Earth'.

Before World War Two, Papua was part of the Dutch East Indies, although it remained virtually untouched. After WW2, the Dutch East Indies became part of Indonesia (1949). However, the Dutch held on in Papua, arguing that as Papua is inhabited by Melanesians, it should be independent. The Indonesians did not agree. But the Dutch defied Indonesia, ceded independence to 'West Papua', and on 1 December 1961, hoisted the new Papuan Morning Star flag. Then on the night of 20 December 1961, Indonesia sent in paratroopers. Papua was conquered and annexed. In 1969 Indonesia held a rigged plebiscite in Papua. Indonesian authorities hand-picked 1,025 Papuans, who then voted unanimously, under duress, for integration with Indonesia. The Indonesians and the UN call this 'The Act of Free Choice', but the Papuans call it 'The Act of No Choice'.

Since that day, Papua has had a history of violent oppression by the Indonesian military (TNI), with demographic dilution through a government programme of massive transmigration of Javanese Muslims. Papuans are politically marginalised, racial tension and religious intolerance have flourished, and Islamic Indonesian culture dominates. Of utmost concern is systematic 'ethnic cleansing' by military operations, and the (possibly deliberate) introduction of AIDS and infected pigs. (Melanesian Papuans eat pigs but Indonesian Muslims do not.) Officially, some 100,000 Papuans have been killed directly due to Indonesian occupation, but the unofficial figure is 800,000.

The Indonesians do all this for economic gain. They want Papua so they can exploit its timber and mineral resources. The notorious and systemically corrupt TNI also profits from 'business' in Papua. Meanwhile the UN and various Western governments turn a blind eye for political gain. They want Indonesia as an ally.

The Christian Papuans desperately need our support and prayers. Papuans, often Christian leaders, are frequently killed by the TNI, who are constantly trying to provoke retaliation that could be claimed to justify a full scale massacre against the 'separatist threat'. The TNI terrorises Papuans from helicopters, shooting civilians, burning villages and churches, and forcing thousands to flee their homes and hide in the jungle where they die of starvation, illness or injury. The TNI's allies, the pro-Indonesian militias and the Laskar Jihad (Islamic warriors), are armed ready for a major ethnic cleansing campaign.

Papua, as part of Indonesia and the 'dar al-Islam' (land of Islam), is being 'Indonesianised' and Islamised. The Papuans are facing genocide while those with worldly power turn away. But as one Papuan Christian leader recently said to me (EK), 'We are not alone. We have our Lord, Jesus Christ. He created us and put us here in this land of Papua. It is his will that we are here. We have his Spirit. And we have you, our brothers and sisters who support us and pray for us. We are not alone, we are together.'

  • God to protect his children in Papua, surrounding them with his presence (Psalm 125:2), and frustrating the way of the wicked (Psalm 146:9).

  • a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit through the young Papuan Church, drawing all Papuans to humble God-dependent prayer, and empowering believers with holiness, gifts and faith.

  • divine wisdom and leadership so the Church may grow through the present struggles, for the glory and victory of God.

  • the God of peace, justice and righteousness to turn away disaster from his children, by using advocates, speakers and writers to awaken the world to this developing secret genocide.
'Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honour me.' (Psalm 50:15)

Elizabeth Kendal is the Principal Researcher and Writer for the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) This article was initially written for the WEA RLP(Religious Liberty Prayer) mailing list

Elizabeth can be contacted by e-mail at

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